Fixing the Blackguard

Since I spend much of my time trash-talking Destruction (and much more of my time pounding the senses out of them), it might seem uncustomary for me to speak out for one of them, let alone one of the four cut classes. I had no real attachment to any of them – they sort of passed out of the game with no regret from me – but I did have a passing interest in trying out the blackguard, if only for the look.

It would have to be the look, wouldn’t it? Since we only heard lip-service with regards to his mechanic, and he was never in a beta that could be spoken of or was even leaked. He allegedly had a “Hatred” mechanic that was the inverse of the Ironbreaker’s “Grudge” mechanic…as the BG and his friendly target inflicted damage, he gained Hatred, which – like Grudge – bolstered his attacks (or defenses?) while he had it amassed, and bolstered his defenses (attacks?) when he would expend it.

Since the class was cut, and I’ve always wanted to take a whack at something like this anyway, I’ve decided to try and invent/fix the mechanic that was so boring as to not make it (inspired by Twist-it Logic). These are off-the-cuff, just thought them up as I wrote, so if they seem leaky or stupid, well now you know why.

Tell you what, Mythic. If you guys see this and you’re all like “Damn, that’s a good idea, now we need a better one” STOP RIGHT THERE. Offer me a job <3 Or just use the idea. Either is fine, really. Expect my resume…in two years after I score my masters degree. Ok, how about next summer for an internship? We’ll talk.

In short, if you like the idea, my name is Thade. If you don’t like the idea, my name is Syp. (ZING.)

Take One – AoE

Hatred is gained not only by the damage you do and your friendly target does…but by the damage going on around within range of you. (Maybe this could be some kind of aura or something, even change it such that it only focuses on physical or magic damage, but not both.) As damage happens, Hatred accrues…so you versus one other guy, not very exciting. You in the middle of a huge crazy fight, you would become everybody’s worst nightmare (like the Ironbreaker). As you gain Hatred, you go faster…all your cool-downs are subtly reduced depending on how much Hatred you’ve gained. If this much hatred gain is a pain in the butt to balance/detect (which it occurs to me that it might be), simply focusing on the BG and his friend are probably just fine.

Now, all tanks need to be intrinsically very annoying in order to be effective, so he’ll need a selection of CC and debuffs. Also, he has reach (a polearm) so I think huge, wide-sweeping Guan Yu (a la Dynasty Warriors) attacks/knockdowns/effects would be fun and appropriate. Maybe even a root (do any tanks have a hard-and-fast root?) to keep peeps in range of you so they keep dealing damage in your area of Hatred-sponging. Now what do we have? The makings of an AoE tank…one that will be the favorite of AoE damage dealers. Blackguard finds a cluster, runs in, engages the cluster – sticks them all – then the AoE storm begins. The only thing we’re missing here is an Order equivalent AoE tank. (KotBS?)

Take Two

No sword-n-board allowed; make the Blackguard a specifically polearm-wielding tank. Lower his intrinsic physical damage mitigation (perhaps significantly). Let’s go ahead and lower his magic mit as well…to the point of being a melee class. (Stick with me.)

NOW, as you fight, you build Hatred; amassed Hatred buffs you against magic, increasing your resistances…we’ll say at 50% – 70% Hate, you’re right where an anti-magic tank should be, but from 70% up you have enhanced mitigation vs magic attacks. Your physical mitigation is not passively affected by amassed hatred; it is instead bolstered by spending AP (and some Hate, perhaps) in using your attack abilities. This is where the standard array of tanky CC will comes into play, coupled with your huge reach (halberd/poleaxe/pick your polearm, there are many and they all look cool). Wide-sweeping, hard hitting attacks that at least push your target(s) back to the length of your halberd: out of melee range (for them). Maybe one full 360 attack (with a high cool-down), but mostly attacks with a frontal face arc. My feeling is that Hatred should build quickly, if not only because he’ll need to be magic resistant to be a tank, then because – lore-wise – this guy should be loaded to the brim with disdain for everyone around him, especially those who are not dark elves.

If you want to take this guy down as a melee, you have to flank him and hope he’s not fast enough (or perhaps that he hasn’t built up enough hatred to lower his cooldowns/speed him up, if you like that mechanic as well) to handle attackers both front and back. Some of his moves could perhaps about-face him on purpose: there are plenty of flourishy pole arm maneuvers that I can imagine which could start with an attack on your front arc then 180 turn you for defending behind. This already sounds pretty powerful in that the blackguard’s attacks are fast *and* holding melee attackers away so they can’t counter with their own damage. So the easy thing to do here is to lower the damage output of the Blackguard. Hatred does not bolster DPS; hatred bolsters speed and defensive moves. So make him like big, walking, AoE DoT.

While this character would still be annoying, one easy way to deal with him would be to stay the hell away. So, in order to make him a big enough pain in the ass to contend with, his defensive target should receive substantial bonuses to damage mitigation and/or attack power. Perhaps the Blackguard could expend Hatred to even heal his friendly target, or offer him a shield of some kind; take half of his damage, or something of that nature. I don’t want the BG to become a healer, and this idea of mine does tread a bit on the Warrior Priest’s territory, but if its heals to be had, it could come in an over-time form where each hit does a very, very small amount of healing to the friendly target…and this healing could never work on you. Something very annoying but not powerful enough to main-heal. In fact, let’s drop that idea and just share the damage taken by the friendly.

Since magic VS this idea would be very bad before you’ve built up Hatred, I wouldn’t see it a bad thing to give the BG a silence or some other sort of debuff to reduce a magic user’s effectiveness against him so as to buy him time. Then again, perhaps the BG could just engage the magic user. Give him a charge/rush ability, to get him there.


Hatred should have some sort of epic graphical effect in my mind…as your hatred is higher, your armor emits a black smoke and a purple glow…we’ll say four levels of it, so at zero you look just like a normal, scary guy in black spiky armor, 25% your eyes have a faint glow and there’s a little haze at your feet, and at 100% hatred your eyes are blazing red with plumes of purple fog/black fog/smoke all about the ground around you. (Yes, yes, I am an animator’s worst nightmare when it comes to game design. We can talk.) Also, from what lore I found on them, they guys should be drooling and screaming the entire time they’re hitting things. And laughing maniacally, so as to make those around uncomfortable.

Well, that’s enough arm chair theorizing for one Friday. Just over a week to go until Open Beta. I wonder what will unfold news-wise over the next week? Probably nothing. Maybe I’ll try to fix the other abandoned classes…or QQ about WoW some more. We’ll see.

Comments or suggestions on the mechanics I presented would be fun for me, so I encourage you to make them. Also, if you happen to be able to find some of the smarter “fixes” for these classes on WHA (I recall one post in particular but couldn’t find it today), definitely post that. Cheers.

~ by thade on August 29, 2008.

11 Responses to “Fixing the Blackguard”

  1. If Mythic hires you, can I come too? We’d get the 4 lost classes up and running in no time. Heck, might as well tackle the lost cities too.
    I like the idea of the glowing eyes and armour, and sticking with the polearm sounds good.

  2. I fear that’s probably not how it works ;) and if ever they do hire me, I suspect it’ll be as a security coder/analyst or systems guy…probably not a creative designer.

    I’ll certainly put in a good word for ya though. <3

  3. There’s some very good ideas here. Sounds like a fun class to play.

  4. you know, I don’t intend to roll destruction but swordmaster vs blackguard would look epic! EA/Mythic please look at this guy’s stuff and consider it!

  5. My best suggestion on “fixing” the four missing classes is… don’t fix them or do anything for a few months. Mythic has the relatively unique opportunity here to wait and see how things turn out on real live, non-beta servers with real live players. Losing these four classes for launch was unfortunate, but it also presents a real opportunity to address balance concerns in the future without having to gut/overhaul existing classes.

  6. Its really mind boggling how they couldnt get THAT class be special.. its prolly the coolest of them all. :(

  7. I like your thinking! I think the overall community should work to provide Mythic with ideas to go over and these are good ones!

    Personally, I would like to see the Black Guard as an Anti-Magic tank. One complaint you see by many destruction players is how “over-powered” the Bright Wizards are. You could make the Black Guard Desctructions “solution” to that by having the BG build his hate only from magical effects, take much less damage from magical attacks, and have heals be more effective on him. Make him much weaker against melee (no sword and board option), and you have something interesting and useful.

    I really like the concept of a long pole arm with some 360 attacks too.


  8. Actually the chaos chosen is already largely the anti-magic tank. What will deminish the effectiveness of ranged DPS will be the addition of the 4 delayed classes. Which will swing the server population largely to the mele side of the scales.

  9. […] Over on Archmagery and Twist-it Logic they’ve been having an interesting discussion about the Black Guard and I […]

  10. […] is why I think that Thade is spot on when he talks about an AOE build up of “Vengeance”. And when I think AOE, I […]

  11. I think that while you have some great ideas in this article, having an AoE tank that builds a grudge style meter would very quickly get out of hand. This tank would very quickly become unstoppable in any Public Quest with a kill count.

    Think about it. You pull two or three low level mobs into the public quest area to keep your “Vengeance” up. Once you are at full and the PQ starts, you unload a low level aoe sweep to pull the mobs. Then a big aoe to knock them back and keep moving. There would be no stopping your damage output, and even healing wouldn’t match you b/c your knockback would limit damage taken.

    Overall I think that you’re on to some really good threads and they should be taken seriously, but just remember my friend… Guan Yu was unstoppable once he got going. Even the mighty Lu Bu fell to Guan Yu’s might.

    Oh, and if they get red eyes and black smoke, I want gold eyes and incandescent flames. Ironbreaker 4 life yo.

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